Do you believe that you are worthy of care? So many of us young women feel guilty when we take the time to drink water, exercise, sleep, or eat. We wonder if we’re being selfish.
Why? Because we think that we can neglect our own bodies, minds, and souls, as long as we’re doing something that’s “actually worthwhile.” But beloved, that’s a lie. Self-care is more than worthwhile. It’s critical.
I recently helped a friend with a major ministry project. Young and ambitious, we didn’t realize how much help we would need to accomplish everything necessary. My friend is a beautiful, service-oriented person, and because she was so overwhelmed by her to-do list, she kept forgetting to eat.
Some people would commend her for the sacrifice, but I was worried. After all, she was as worthy of care and love as every person we were serving. Over the course of our project, we both learned a great deal on the topic of self-care.
First, when we serve others, we need to remember to care for ourselves. Remember, even Jesus took time alone, to eat, to walk, to pray, and to sleep. Friends, we should not try to be holier than Jesus. When He was walking among us, the Divine living in a human body, He had to submit to the needs of His body.
Jesus did not feel ashamed about slipping away from the needy crowds to pray and eat. He trusted that His Father would provide enough time for Him to minister to their needs. If we run ourselves into the ground in the name of service, what we are really doing is showing a lack of trust in our Father. We believe that He will not provide enough time.
But He will. He is the Keeper of the Stars and of each of our days. But if we neglect our body’s requirements in the name of service, we are actually trusting in our own strength.
As you go about the ministries God has called you to, choose to trust Him. Have regular “off” times, when you pray, exercise, and eat. Allow your body’s needs to grow you in humility and dependence on God.
Self-Care Is Not Selfish
Taking time for our body’s needs is not selfish. Some Christians have the wrong attitude that they must compare themselves to Christian heroes who went through severe hardships. If their daily life does not compare, they feel they are somehow less.
Even missionaries need to bathe, my friend. Yes, many Christians in prison or fleeing persecution must do without basic necessities. But these cases are extreme, and if we are meant to face such deprivation, God will give us the grace to go through that.
Although we should hold all our blessings loosely, ready to surrender them if the Lord asks, we should also look at the life God has given us, and be grateful. Be grateful for the blessings of food and sleep and prayer and simple joys like laughter with our family or a wholesome, deep, beautiful book. It is not selfish to enjoy our lives.
However, there is also another danger: ingratitude. When God has given us a gift, and we are afraid to accept it, what does that say about our heart?
“God, I know You have given me this life and the sacred responsibility of caring for myself, Your temple. But I’m honestly afraid of enjoying this gift. What if You take it away?
“What if You really don’t love me, after all?”
Dear Rose, are you afraid to accept the simple earthly blessings God wants to give you, because you don’t really believe His love is real and true?
Look back at the Cross. Remember, that is the true gift. The gifts of life, of breath, of sunshine, of flowers, of snow-coated spruce trees, of a small puppy wriggling in your arms—these are reminders of His love. Instead of being afraid to enjoy His blessings, what if you reveled in them? What if you thanked Him exuberantly for every sunset, every star, and each stage of the moon?
What if you chose to see each breath as a gift?
You are Responsible for Caring For You
Remember, God looks at each of His creatures, however small, and sees them as precious. He cares for the sparrows. And how much more does He love us? How much more will He care for us?
Yet it is our duty to accept His care. He does not force-feed His children. He simply provides for us and waits for us to accept the gifts He offers.
Look at your life. I know it is not perfect: there is no perfect life. But it is filled with blessings. What if you treated yourself as someone worth caring for? Even, my precious Rose, if you do not believe it yet, begin to change your thoughts about yourself.
You are a temple of the living God; will you not honor Him in your body? Practice self-care. Do it in a way that reminds you to depend on Him. For a heart fully dependent on its Creator is a beautiful thing.
Instead of believing that it is selfish to take time to attend to your own needs, remember that it is a chance to let Him reshape your heart in His image.
- Memorize Scripture about the use of our time and our value in God’s sight, as well as His love. Whenever you’re tempted to ignore your own needs and value the world’s conception of “productivity” over God’s emphasis on holiness and loving the Lord and other people, remember one of these verses.
- Choose to reframe the negative self-talk. Here are a few lies and the truth that can set us free.
- “I can only be happy with myself if I get X done.” God values how we spend our time, but He is also unconcerned with “productivity.” He does not value hustling, but waiting upon Him. And since you are completely accepted by your Father, not because of your own accomplishments or work, but by grace, you do not have to wait to be at peace with yourself or with God.
- “I’m not worth caring for.” Even though we were sinners, Christ died for us. He thinks you are worth spending time on. He thinks you are worth providing for. He loves you. Trust His goodness.
- “It would be selfish to say no right now, even though I don’t think I can handle it.” Jesus Himself said no. He refused to go to Lazarus, even though his friend was dying, because God had called Him to do other things. As long as we are certain we know what God is asking us to do, we can rest in that and choose to prioritize what God is calling us to do. There is never a shortage of ways we can serve the Lord—but the most important thing is that we are obeying the Lord. Instead of filling up our every moment serving, let’s focus on following His lead and choosing to obey Him. Sometimes that means saying no to other things, and that is okay.
- Develop a self-care routine. Don’t just include “basic” bodily needs, but go above and beyond to create a routine that allows you to honor God with a fully nourished body and soul, ready to obey Him and serve others. A good plan for this is having a “everyday” simple routine that includes the habits you need to incorporate into your life, and then have a “repertoire of positive self-care habits… to choose from and fall back on daily.” ~ Rowena Tsai (Rowena is not a Christian but she has wonderful self-care and healthy habits tips!) For example, although I love both horseback riding and playing piano, I’m not able to do them every day. But I keep them in my repertoire of nourishing habits to choose from.
I want to leave you, dear Roses, with a reminder that you are fully loved and fully accepted by your Father, who wants to use every part of your life to make you into a more spiritually beautiful and holy representative of Christ. Our daily self-care routines are a chance to trust Him in even deeper ways.
Bethany’s name means “bright city on a hill.” This is her mission in life, to illuminate the beautiful things and shine God’s light where there was darkness. Bethany leads The Wilting Rose Project, a ministry of encouragement for young women who feel their struggles make them worthless. She writes tales inspired by her love of the forest, where she spends many of her mornings, soaking in the uniquely Minnesotan beauty. Her blog includes more personal documentation of her journey the last few years with Lyme disease and Toxic Mold illness and the journey of healing she is now on.